Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Well, we are well into the first two weeks of summer.  There has already been some great professional development attended by many of us.  If you get a chance, check out the Google Drive doc I shared with you about summer professional development.  It is reading a lot like a blog with all of the great ideas and things people are learning this summer.  

Dr. Catoe, Mr. Lawrence, and I just returned from the South Carolina Association of School Administrator's (SCASA) conference.  I was very encouraged by the fact that most of the conversations/sessions/speeches, etc... centered on things we are learning about and practicing at NSE and in Richland Two. Of course, common core was a huge topic in many of the sessions, but so was project based learning, the flipped classroom, student led conferences, STEM education, being student centered, personalized learning, etc...

Another conversation that I participated in had to do with "balance."  I think that what we are doing at NSE by tapping into the interests, needs, and passions of our students and engaging them in the work is the right thing to do for kids.  We are no longer the keepers of information and knowledge (textbooks and teachers manuals), but facilitators of learning through technology and collaboration.  However, we do need to make sure that our students have the basic skills to accomplish the work that we design for them.

I encourage you to take some time this summer and learn more about the common core standards, the Smarter Balance Assessment, project based learning, flipping your classroom, student led conferences, STEM education (good for all students), and whatever else interests you.  Creating a New Culture of Learning is not a mandatory read, but is definitely aligned with the framework of the district.  There are many other books that are worth reading as well.

Out of Our Minds by Sir Ken Robinson
Creating Innovators by Tony Wagner (recommended by Dr. Catoe)
Choice Words by Peter Johnston (recommended by Mrs. Hethcox)

I think that it is also worth noting in this post that since we have begun working together here at NSE we have had a focus on student engagement through Schlechty's work, project based learning through Ron Berger's book, and now technology through Thomas and Brown's book (Creating a New Culture of Learning).  I want to remind you that the first book that I introduced to you was Paper Airplane: The Flight of Change.  I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for us to be innovative in our approach to teaching and allowing our boys and girls to be creative and innovative at school.  You all have done some great things here at NSE to engage more of our students in a true learning process that is meaningful and engaging to them and not just the adults.  If you get a chance, click on the Paper Airplane link above and watch Michael McMillan's video about being creative and innovative in the classroom!!!  

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